It has been years since I'd enjoyed the wonders of railfanning Union Pacific's spectaculor Mojave Subdivision, especially Tehachapi Loop, known on the railroad timetable as Walong Siding. The "loop" is a wonder in the world of railroad engineering, and a mecca for railfans, history buffs, engineering students, tourists, and anybody who enjoys seeing big-time mountain railroading in action.
Photo: It's 10 o'clock Thursday morning, May 24, 2018, and I'm at Walong siding, a the world-famous Tehachapi loop, and watching an eastbound BNSF stack train negotiate the loop. On top of the hill are two crosses, which honor the two Southern Pacific Railroad crewmen killed in 1989, at San Bernardino, in the "Duffy Street Railroad Disaster..."
I started out today's railroad action by enjoying a fantastic breakfast at Voyager Restaurant in Mojave, where "Aviation is Spoken," and railfans are welcome.
The Tehachapi Loop, opened in 1876, is a masterpiece or railroad engineering, and is considered one of the "wonders" or the railroad world. The loop spans about 3/4 mile, maintains a steady 2% grade, and climbs 77 feet in less than a mile. If a train is over 4000 feet long - that's most trains - it crosses over itself. An interesting tidbit of information is that 2018's PTS - Positive Train Control - has difficulty determining the fact that a train is crossing over itself, and that causes the software headaches.
Photo: BNSF #4079, a GE C44-9W leads a double stack train east at Walong siding, up the 2% Tehachapi Loop, and Mojave Subdivision's ruling grade. #4079 is the lead unit in the previous photo. It's a little after 10 on this late May Thursday morning, and this is the first train of the day that I've been able to photograph, after missing a couple of trains as I was manouerving into position.
Photo: BNSF #6048 is "in my face," as she leads a auto train east at Walong Siding. #6048 just happens to be a GE ES44C, a member of the "Evolution" series of motive power, which seems to be very popular with BNSF and UP at the Tehachapi Loop.
Photo: Whoever "decorated" this double level auto car spent a lot of time and effort on their work or "art," or is it a "tag?" Gone are the days when "car checkers" would "tag" railroad cars with chalk, in 2018, nearly every freight car sports a "tag" of graffiti.
Photo: BNSF #5331, another GE ES44-9W leads a westbound merchandise train down the 2% Tehachapi Loop in full dynamic braking. Optimal speed in dynamics is about 25 mph, so that's what most westbound trains strive for as they head west from Walong siding.
Photo: In the same location as the previous photo, but a different angle, BNSF #6799, a GE ES44C4 leads a double stack train downgrade around the mountain, and under the loop.
Photo: UP #9070, a GE C41-8, followed by #4628, an EMD SD70M, and friends, lead an eastbound piggyback train through the tunnel, and over the loop. The 77 foot elevation gain afforded by the loop is very apparent in this photo, and is a lasting tribute to William Hood, the engineer who made this railroad wonder possible.
Tehachapi Loop is the most famous railroad loop in the world, but in California alone there is another railroad loop, also in the Union Pacific railroad system, Williams Loop, near Quincy, CA. It's not as spectacular, not as famous, and only gets a handful of trains a week. Not to mention photography is difficulty, as it's overgrown with tall pine trees that block the view of the railroad action.
Photo: The horses graze and don't seem to notice the BNSF merchandise train passing over itself at Tehachapi Loop. Train is being led by BN #6861.
Photo: BNSF #6861, a GE ES44C4, handily leads an eastbound merchandise train up the 2% grade near the east end of Walong siding.
Photo: Ten minutes after BN #6861 passed, here comes a UP mixed freight train east, led by UP $7046, as it passes itself over Tehachapi Loop.
Photo: UP #8703, an EMD SD70ACe, and UP #9038, an EMD SD70AH are DPU's at the end of the train in the previous photo, led by UP #7046. The DPU's push the train through Walong siding, as the siding is home to a "rolling" meet, which is a sight to behold on the busiest single-track mainline railroad in North America.
Photo: How about this for DPU action? BNSF loves leased power in times of shortage, so Citirail - CREX - a GE ES44AC, shows up as a DPU, at the end of an eastbound merchandise train, at the east end of Walong siding.
Photo: From a vantage point overlooking the loop, this BNSF piggyback train looks like an N-scale model train, but it isn't... Its for real, the loop is real, and the mainline railroad action is hot and heavy on Union Pacific's Mojave Subdivision on this early Thursday afternoon in late May, 2018.
Photo: Dad takes photos, mom watches, and brother and sister stand in shock and awe as they stand close to the eastbound BNSF train.
Photo: You can only take "so many" photos at Tehachapi Loop before you repeat yourself, so I drove a couple east to Marcel siding, where I photo'd UP #7374, a GE AC45CCTE, leading an eastbound manifest train up the 2% grade.
Photo: Dirt bikers love railroad action too, as this guy shuts off his bike, and pauses to watch a eastbound BNSF train push up the 2% grade at Marcel siding.
Photo: BNSF #7804, a GE ES44DC, leads a double stack train eastbound at Marcel Siding.
Photo: It's 6 o'clock in the afternoon, and I take one more photo of UP #6947, GE AC4460CW, the DPU on the tail end of a manifest train, working in dynamic braking mode as she helps the train westbound, on the 2% grade down the hill towards Bakersfield.
During the eight hours or so I spent at Walong, and later Marcel, I had the pleasure to take photos of 14 trains, and I missed several more, due to changing photo location, camera not ready, or just plain laziness on my part. With this number of trains... if you miss one or two, no problem as there will be many more.
I must confess Union Pacific's Mojave Subdivision is my favorite place on earth to "railfan," and photo big-time railroading in action.
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